Exactly a year ago, my world suddenly turned upside down. Out of nowhere our youngest daughter, Lucy, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At the time she was only three years old. The life-changing phone call reached me on my way to France for a long weekend with my eldest daughter. We barely made it out of Stuttgart when we had to turn around and head straight to Olgahospital, Stuttgart’s children’s’ hospital, where we got to spend a fortnight instead. At the time we really had no clue what was awaiting us!

When I think about these first chaotic days now, I can sit back and smile. It was a bit like taking a baby home from hospital for the first time and looking for the instruction manual. Luckily the normality of madness in day to day life catches up with you quickly, and life with Type 1 soon became just one more part of our daily routine. And today I can say our life with Type 1 is really the same as before – just a little bit different!

Today, November 14th , is World Diabetes day and I would like to take the opportunity to raise awareness for this disease that has recently been increasing among old and young alike in large numbers. Diabetes can hit anyone.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that affects the metabolism where the insulin production provided by the pancreas is impaired or ceases completely. As a result of this the body can no longer break down carbohydrates (bread, pasta or potatoes for instance) into sugars which are needed for the body’s energy supply. The same applies to all sugars contained in food (fruit for instance). Instead of using them for energy, all sugars end up in the blood stream, raising the blood sugar levels to dangerous levels. As a result of this blood vessels will be damaged and at a later stage will cause heart disease, eye impairment, strokes or damage to the nervous system.

There are 2 types of the disease. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common (90% of all diabetics are Type 2) variant. Over the past years the world has seen a vast rise in this disease. Type 2 is also commonly known as affecting older people only, but this is not true anymore. Type 2 is also often diagnosed too late. Experts estimate that about 4 million people are already undiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Early detection is vital in preventing the afore mentioned vascular damage.

Unfortunately, it is our “modern” lifestyle that has led Type 2 diabetes to be the leading disease in our society: high carb, high calorie, and sugary foods and drinks along with not enough sports contribute to the overload the pancreas faces. When it all gets too much, the pancreas just caves in and slows or stops insulin production altogether.

Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children, and only occasionally in adults. Experts are still researching as to what triggers the disease. There is a small genetic component and newer research suggests that also particular viruses can trigger it. Contrary to Type 2, food, diet and lifestyle have no influence on triggering the disease. Education is so important here as children face the heart-breaking stigma of “fat and lazy” from their surroundings. This can be particularly hard on them in school.

There is no cure for Type 1 and patients are insulin dependent for the rest of their lives.

I am sure by now you are asking yourself: “but what has all this to do with MANN+HUMMEL”?

Since we are now on the “sweet” side of life we have met a lot of wonderful people, including here at MANN+HUMMEL. When working in such a large company such as MANN+HUMMEL, it is great to still be able to meet colleagues in person, make new friends and to support each other. Through a co-worker and friend, Ines Lachmann, for instance we got to know “sweet kids Ludwigsburg”- a support group for families, right here in Ludwigsburg. This group helps children to get to know other children with Type 1 and feel “normal” amongst many other Type 1 children. Ines has been great and always had good advice on those days where nothing seemed to go smoothly.

And of course diabetes does not stop at any borders….but it can bring people together. A highlight for our Lucy was meeting Jerome Migaud from MANN+HUMMEL Laval and his family during our summer holidays. Normally Jerome and my husband Chris work hard on MANN+HUMMEL projects together, but now we are also connected by our children with Type 1.

We spent a wonderful day together in Vannes with a pick-nick and lots of sightseeing. And Lucy (although she doesn’t speak a word of French- well apart from Bonjour and pain au chocolat) already said she can’t wait to meet Jerome’s daughter again next summer. It was just fantastic for her to see that she is not alone and that Jerome’s daughter is doing a great job managing everything on her own.

We are very happy to be a part of the MANN+HUMMEL Family.